Sharing my journey as science teacher, creator of elementary and middle school science lessons and projects, mom of teens/ young adults, widow, & NGSS expert.

Favorite Upper Elementary Read Alouds and Essential Questions

 Are you looking for the best 5th grade books to read aloud? I have some must read books for you! I chose these books based on the messages and themes. They cover conservation, responsibility, kindness, compassion, creativity, leadership and more. This the order I read these books with the students. We read together after recess. We don't do packets but we collect evidence for the essential question and write a response to literature essay. 

The One and Only Ivan

Great discussion questions Click HERE

Summary from site above: Ivan, an adult male silverback gorilla, has been living in captivity for 27 years, most of that time on display at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, along with Stella, a wise older elephant, and Bob, a sassy stray dog. Julia, the janitor’s daughter, helps Ivan with his artistic efforts. But when Mack, the owner of the mall, introduces a baby elephant named Ruby, Ivan sees his captivity for what it is. Realizing that Ruby needs more freedom, Ivan assumes his rightful place as a leader and secures a better future for himself and his friends.

Evidenced Based Writing Essay Question: Discuss the special bond between Julia and Ivan. Why is she different from all the other children who come to see his shows?

Endangered Animal Infographic Project works great with this book. Click to read my blog post about it.

Other projects: We study the four great apes (chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, and bonobos) with our Safari Park partners. Students do trifold poster projects on what the learned. We learn about threats, their habitat and where they live, their diet, and population status.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

This is great to read around Christmas. Students make a paper stocking for one of the characters.

Summary: When London is bombed during World War II, four siblings are sent to live with a professor in his large country home. Lucy finds a wardrobe that leads her to Narnia, a magical frozen land. Lucy returns to Narnia with her sister, Susan, and her brothers, Edmund and Peter. They meet beavers and other creatures and join with the lion, Aslan, to fight the evil White Witch, Jadis.

Evidenced Based Writing Essay Question: What mistakes does Edmund make? How does he change at the end of the story?

Out of My Mind

Summary: Eleven-year-old Melody is not like most people. She can’t walk. She can’t talk. She can’t write. All because she has cerebral palsy. But she also has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, but NO ONE knows it. Most people—her teachers, her doctors, her classmates—dismiss her as mentally challenged because she can’t tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by her disability. And she’s determined to let everyone know it…somehow. (From Amazon) 

Evidenced Based Writing Essay Question: Who shows that they are a good friend to Melody and who doesn't?

Stem Steam Project:  I created a communication board project that really works to go with Out of My Mind using a Makey Makey and Scratch programming. Check out the blog post HERE.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Evidenced Based Writing Essay Question: Kyle's team chooses him as a leader. What makes him a great leader?

Summary: Kyle Keeley is the class clown and a huge fan of all games—board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the construction of the new town library. Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot as one of twelve kids invited for an overnight sleepover in the library, hosted by Mr. Lemoncello and riddled with lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors stay locked. Kyle and the other kids must solve every clue and figure out every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route! (from Amazon)

A great resource from the publisher HERE.


Evidenced Based Writing Essay Question: Auggie's teacher, Mr. Browne teaches precepts or quotes and challenges the kids: "When given the choice between being right, or being kind, choose kind." Who is Auggie's life chooses to be kind and who doesn't?

Summary: August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Beginning from Auggie’s point of view and expanding to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others, the perspectives converge to form a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. (from Amazon)

I use the EB Academic format and graphic organizers for teaching response to literature essay writing. There is a resource on TPT that would be helpful. Click HERE.

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